Talk ‘To’ Each Other, Not ‘About’ Each Other

An important and invaluable lesson I’ve learned over the years is that clear, open, honest, direct communication with people solves most problems. So often I have seen relationships deteriorate to the point where people are talking “about” each other instead of talking “to” each other.

This can happen more easily than you might think.  For most people, when things don’t go the way they expect in a relationship, the tendency is to talk to EVERYONE they know EXCEPT the person they have the problem with.  Someone once told me that when you point your finger at someone, you have three more fingers pointing back at you–this is very true!

So, my advice (which–trust me–is based on years of experience and learning the hard way) when it comes to strengthening and maintaining healthy relationships, particularly relationships with your referral partners, is to talk “to” each other not “about” each other. If you have a problem with someone in your life, pick up the phone and call them right now.  Ask to meet and talk to them about your concerns and, most importantly, how you can both resolve the challenges or issues you’re experiencing and get back to a positive place in the relationship.  Stay “solutions focused”–don’t even attempt to get into the “blame game.”

Now that I’ve explained my perspective which is a result of my experience, I’d like to ask you–the blog readers–about your experience.

Tell me about a time in your life when you  either spoke to someone and ended up working out your issue(s) OR, about a time when you didn’t and the issue(s) in your relationship got worse and worse.  You’re among friends . . . both situations have happened to the best of us. 😉

13 thoughts on “Talk ‘To’ Each Other, Not ‘About’ Each Other

  1. This is so important- especially with your fellow BNiers (referral partners). I seen it way too many times- a person will have an issue with another, but fail to talk to them about it.
    Open, honest communication (done in a loving and caring way) insures success.
    Someone caring enough about you to point out something that may hurt you is where we all want to be.

    Shawn McCarthy BNI ED Ventura County, Santa Clarita/Antelope Valleys, Ca.

  2. This is very good in theory but very difficult in practice. I think that systems should be put in place by the leadership teams to deal with this divisive issue and a zero tolerance policy should be implemented.

  3. Ivan,
    One of the best pieces of advice – EVER! If we could all remember this – in businss and in personal life, we would be SO FAR ahead of the game. Thank you for reminding us HOW to do what works very time.

  4. When I talk (meaning complain) to others rather than speak directly to the person with whom I have an issue, I am essentially playing the game of “Telephone”. We all know what occurs when this game is played: the story changes, becomes distorted, the facts are confused. The difference is that’s a game. Here, we’re talking about real life and real relationships. In “Telephone”, when the game is over we laugh when we compare the original information to what was told to the last person in the line. In real situations, if I fail to speak directly to the person, I deny them the opportunity to be understood and I deny both of us the chance to listen and learn.

  5. Communication is absolutely necessary to any relationship and it is a two-way street. Businesses need to stop and consider what they may be communicating to their customers, clients or patrons as well as how they are sending these messages. Secondly, businesses need to consider what messages are coming back to them and how these messages are being delivered. Most businesses are hopefully waking up to how increasingly important social media marketing is becoming. Not all social media is created equal and just having a page on Facebook is not adequate. Personal communication is so very important and businesses are finding new ways to have a dialog through social media.

  6. I have found that most problems boil down to a lack of communication or a lack of education. Many times we have not communicated what we truly want or need from someone. On the flip side, many times we have not taken the time to properly educate our referral sources or staff. If we remember that the other persons perception IS their reality then it is easier to see an issue as stated above. Just an opportunity to communicate or educate in a way that will be effective for bot parties.

  7. One of the most important skills is getting along with others. In BNI the code of ethics requires us to be supportive and positive with each other. When people start talking about others rather than to others, relationships are impacted and this results in a loss of closed business. Membership Committees need to be tough, but diplomatic, with this at all times.

    If there is an issue with someone, you put it in writing to the Membership Committee. If you don’t want to do that, you are not entitled to speaking about it to anyone other than the person there is a problem with.

    Again, getting along with others is key!

  8. Hi Ivan, reading your blog is the thing I must do everything because it is really unique, I love that. And because of that, I bought your 4 books in one shot. I promoted your blog on one Kuala Lumpur business networking fan page as well.

  9. Hi Ivan, thanks for your reply. Those books are on the way from US to Malaysia. : Would you mind to connect on Linkedin? I would like to interview you for our magazine.
    Our magazine is the first Asia Linkedin + networking magazine. Without interviewing you, I feel something not right for our magazine. 🙂

    I hope my readers can read your thought in how to do networking so that they can benefit from you. We have done few interviews with world top authors (like you) as well. They are Neal Schaffer, Jan Vermeiren, etc. They are Linkedin world top authors. But networking is very important offline and online.

    I know that different people have different networking policy, I hope I don’t offend your networking policy. I just wish to help more people to succeed in doing networking through your knowledge. 🙂

    If you agree, I will send an invitation on Linkedin. 🙂
    God bless you. 🙂

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